July 4th Memories by Tara Randel

Happy 4th of July. Today is a day to picnic, hit the water and enjoy the fireworks. Most of us have the day off, so spending time with family is high on the list as well. Or maybe you’ll take advantage of the day off to catch up on reading or go to the movies. That’s the wonderful thing about living in America, we have the freedom to spend the day in any way we like.

One of the things I do around certain holidays is reminisce. We all have wonderful memories that mark special times in our lives. For me, the 4th has always been about being outdoors. As a kid, I couldn’t wait until it grew dark outside so the light show could begin. I still love when fireworks light up the sky, especially seeing the delight and wonder etched on the faces of the children I happen to be watching the show with. 

As I remember, we would spend the day having a picnic with other families in the neighborhood, passing the day by eating and swimming. Swimming was actually fun because we shared the pool with a watermelon. Yep, that’s right, a watermelon. My dad threw it in the pool to keep it cool until he was ready to cut it up. Finally, in the evening, my parents would load us into the station wagon, (yikes, has it been that long?) and head out to an open field at the edge of town. We’d spread out a blanket, eat the snacks my mother packed and get ready for the show. Soon, bright lights filled the summer night and we were enthralled. Of course, the show always ended much too soon and we headed home, falling asleep in the back seat. I’ll never forget those times.

In honor of the holiday, I asked my fellow Heartwarming authors to share their favorite memories. 

My 4th of July celebrations were often spent at my uncle's house. He had a pool, so all of us kids would spend our day in the pool while the adults sat on lawn chairs in the shade and discussed every topic from family gossip and history to recipes and current events. Then we'd have a barbecue where my Aunt Liz always made baked beans and my mother always brought desserts (and always more than one). When it got dark, the kids ran around the yard with lit sparklers until my dad and the uncles were ready with the (then illegal) fireworks. They shot off the fireworks as we all ooohed and aaahed. Then it was pack up the car and drive home while us kids tried to stay awake but fell asleep and had to be carried in by my dad. As my sisters and I got older and left for school and jobs, the barbecues slowly dwindled then stopped. Recently, my other uncle invited us all out to his farm for a barbecue. We had fun, but it wasn't quite what our celebrations used to be.
-Syndi Powell

When I was in my 20s, I went with a bunch of friends to a fireworks display.  We were sitting on the lawn of the public library.  I was besides one friend, and about four friends were seated in front of us.  We were back quite a ways from the actual display.  Dusk fell.  The first firework went off.  Then, a strange whiiisssh sounded.  In front of me, as if doing the wave, people stood and fled.

Yup, the city had forgotten to turn off the sprinklers.  The water stopped just in front of me.  I went from being way back in the crowd to having a front row seat.

When I was a kid, my dad set off most of the firework.  I had to content myself with sparklers and black cats.
-Pamela Tracy

For many years Aimée and I enjoyed the 4th of July fireworks with our two mares, Fran the mustang and Ariel, our anglo-arab. Each July 4th, when it started to get dark, we'd take our folding chairs out into the horse arena (bringing carrots for the girls) and watch the fireworks display up on the hill in Rio Rancho, the community to our west. We got to see it all, and our horses remained calm with us there beside them. Just before the display, we'd also see bats flitting around the cottonwood trees, feasting on insects. I (David) enjoyed the bats, Aimée, not so much.

Fran died one February (she was over 30), and when the 4th came, Ariel required a lot of extra attention because local children had been launching bottle rockets all day. When the fireworks started, Ariel got even more upset. I walked her around the arena from around 8:30 to 11:00 that night, finally getting her to relax, aided by a light rain that ended the residential fireworks.

The next 4th the neighbors were more cooperative, and we both watched and tended Ariel very closely, staying with her until everything was quiet again. It was the last 4th for her, unfortunately, and the following Independence Day we stayed inside and watched the TV displays from New York and Boston, without horses for the first time in over twenty years. This year, we'll still fly the flag, take in the display at the Balloon Fiesta Park, just east of Corrales, and give thanks for all the years we spent with our girls out in the arena.  
-David Thurlo

I hope you enjoyed our stories and couldn’t end the post without asking, what are some of your favorite memories?


  1. I love these stories! Our shared experiences always have a great way of connecting us all. Happy Independence Day :-)

  2. I like the parades and concerts and picnics that mark the early start to summer. And today is the Nation's 237th birthday. When we see the news of the struggle for independence and democracy by citizens in so many less fortunate countries, I guess we need to be especially thankful at how we are able to celebrate this great day.

  3. Happy 4th of July everyone! Since I have so many US friends and two of my publishers are US based-I think I should get today off work as well:)
    My family just celebrated Canada Day on Monday and we went to the Legistlature building here in Edmonton where there was music and food and outdoor activities for the kids.
    Have a great day everyone!!

  4. Happy 4th everyone. Just getting the poodles dressed up for the parade, but had to stop by here and say hi!

  5. When I was a child we spent 4th of July at the beach with friends and family. The men dug a large pit, lined it with seaweed, and roasted clams, Portuguese sausage, and all kinds of vegetables. Someone brought masa svada (a sweet bread - sort of like the Hawaiian bread you can buy at the market today.) There were lots of desserts and ice cream from the snack concession. Children and adults alike had such fun! My heart and thanks! go out to all the men before us who fought and died so that I could have those memories - and to all the young men since who have that same courage and dedication. Happy 4th everyone!

  6. Happy Independence Day, everyone! I've really enjoyed reading through your memories. Tara, your memory matches what we do now with our kids. There's a park near us with a huge field where everyone gathers to watch fireworks. They're extra bright against the country sky :). Have a great one!


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